Editorial

Friends’ proposal bids to break Maple Pool deadlock

The Maple Pool campground on Headquarters Road Senior staff at City Hall are assessing a proposal that might help break the deadlock in the high-profile dispute over the Maple Pool campground. Last month elected officials on Courtenay Council agreed staff should meet with representatives of the ‘Friends of Maple Pool’ on a “without prejudice” basis to see if anything had changed that might impact the ongoing litigation over the residential use of the site. Chief administrative officer David Allen has now confirmed to the Echo that he, along with the City’s director of planning services, Peter Crawford, and the senior manager of engineering, Lesley Hatch, met last week with Mike Hamilton and Andrew Gower, representing the Friends. A proposal was put forward by the Friends and that was being assessed by City Hall staff prior to Allen reporting back to Council, likely on July 7 at an ‘in camera’ meeting, where he would seek direction on whether further action was appropriate. Hamilton also confirmed to the Echo that a proposal had been presented to try to move toward resolution of the issue, but no details are being released at this stage to allow staff time to assess the implications and follow up for more information if needed. In the past Hamilton and a group of other business people in town have offered to carry out substantial work to raise the level of land on which trailers currently housing 57 vulnerable residents are positioned in order to mitigate the possibility of future flooding. But the municipality had suggested that action in one location could have negative implications on properties elsewhere... read more

Should curling take priority over homelessness?

posted Jun 23, 2014 at 2:00 PM ; Roger Albert – Guest columnist What will it take? In 2008 the then mayor of Courtenay, Starr Winchester, wrote these words in a letter prefacing the release of Homeless!, the report of the City of Courtenay Mayor’s Task Force on Breaking the Cycle of Mental Illness, Addiction and Homelessness in the Comox Valley: “The issue of homelessness is complex and difficult to solve in isolation.  We recognize that resolving this issue will require the co-operation and partnership of all levels of government as well as community partners. “I strongly support the recommendations contained in this report and look forward to forming partnerships in order to address these very serious issues in our community.” That was six years ago. The mayor expresses strong support for the recommendations of the Task Force, including using a Housing First approach (Google it!). These are laudable words from the former mayor, but the recommendations of the Task Force are a long way from being achieved. It’s not as if nothing has happened to deal with homelessness, mental health and addictions in the community, but we’re still just managing the problem and not really getting anywhere in ending homelessness and creating affordable housing. I know our elected officials want to be fiscally responsible and I applaud them for that. To do the fiscally responsible thing now would be to implement a Housing First model and to create a CVRD service and a municipal non-profit society to manage and champion housing and service initiatives. We know that putting people in homes first and then providing them with adequate supports to deal with their physical... read more

Habitat for Humanity housing project now complete

Image above: Peter Sanderson and a group of dedicated volunteers attended the simple key ceremony for Nadine Miles and her daughter Casey, the sixth deserving family to take possession of the affordable housing on Piercy Avenue. Big celebration to honour volunteers and donors to take place Saturday  Michael Briones/ Echo Staff / Comox Valley Echo – June 13, 2014 08:46 AM – See more at: http://www.comoxvalleyecho.com/news/local/habitat-for-humanity-housing-project-now-complete-1.1128565#sthash.boVjvgG5.dpuf The biggest affordable housing project in the Comox Valley is now complete. The housing project headed by the Vancouver Island North Habitat for Humanity took a year and a half to build. It features three duplexes located on Piercy Avenue in Courtenay. They were built by the over a thousand volunteers with support coming from different groups, businesses and companies in the Comox Valley. “This is the biggest project we’ve ever built,” said Karen Bezaire, of Habitat for Humanity. “We normally just build one duplex simply because that’s all the lot would allow for. But this one is a long, long narrow lot that we acquired and we had more space to put more home. It made more sense to do that.” Six deserving families have now moved into the new homes. The last family to receive the keys to their new abode was Nadine Miles and her daughter Casey just a month ago. To celebrate the community achievement, Habitat for Humanity is holding a dedication event to honour the people that made the project a reality. The event will take place at Piercy Avenue on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Visitors and guests will get the opportunity to tour the homes, meet the families and... read more

Friends of Maple Pool counter Courtenay’s claims

by  Contributed – Comox Valley Record; posted Apr 16, 2014 at 1:00 PM Council chants the mantra of flood risk: “Some have commented that the risk from flooding is low and is limited simply to ‘wet feet’.” Most prominent is Judge Robin Baird who found “flooding in 2009/2010 was inconvenient and messy, but nothing more.” Further: •    Flooding in 2009/2010 was entirely due to releases of water by BC Hydro which far exceeded its guidelines; •    The City has in the past dealt with such potential legal liabilities by simple waivers of liability. Council cites ‘knee-deep or higher’ water in 2009/2010 — true on its face. But it is confined to sites removed/abandoned after the floods. There has since been no permanent residential occupation of these sites. The Court concluded ‘flooding was inconvenient and messy, but nothing more.’ Ladies and gentlemen of Courtenay Council: Elvis has left the building! Although flooding technically occurred in 2009 and 2010, a council with greater integrity and greater devotion to truth would have acknowledged floods occurred at the end of ’09 and beginning ’10; i.e., in one flood season and because of one-off special circumstances. ‘The property nearly flooded again in 2011.’ Who defines ‘nearly? The City was thoroughly thrashed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia when trying to make a case based on actual flooding in 2009/2010. Now council relies on ‘nearly?’ “We have attempted to resolve this situation outside the courts numerous times.” We challenge council to list and date the occasions on which they have made these numerous attempts. Councillors accuse campsite owners Dali and Jin Lin of neglecting for three years to initiate... read more

Gloves off in Maple Pool case

By Philip Round Echo Staff The gloves are off in the Maple Pool case. On Friday the City Council revealed it had decided to fight on with the intention of winning the legal battle of the campground. And yesterday, preparing for a long haul through the courts, a group calling itself ‘Friends of Maple Pool’ attacked the council’s case for continuing, as set out in a lengthy municipal statement. City councillors met twice more in closed session last week to consider where the controversial zoning case had got to and to discuss tactics. Then on Friday, chief administrative officer David Allen issued the statement that concluded: “Courtenay Council is comprised of members from across the political spectrum, yet the majority – fully informed of the facts in the case – believe that this case must continue.” There was no mention of the financial implications of pressing on, which could be huge now the action has been broadened into one including the Charter rights of vulnerable residents living there. But the City is firm on the flood safety issues involved; the liabilities taxpayers could face for not taking action; and the principled need to uphold land use zonings. The full text of the City’s statement, and the complete response from the Friends of Maple Pool – the group of citizens and businesspeople who have been working with campground owners Jin and Dali Lin to try to resolve the issue – are posted on the Echo’s website at www.comoxvalleyecho.com Key points from the municipality’s perspective include what it says is a factual analysis of the flooding issues. It notes some have... read more

Judge wasn’t born yesterday

posted Mar 24, 2014 at 2:00 PM Dear editor, Well, here we are again rapidly approaching another April 1 benchmarking another year of anguish, uncertainty, and financial hardship for the Lins of Maple Pool and the people in their care. All imposed and endorsed by Courtenay City council. Another year for taxpayers to fund huge legal bills. Another year for us to wonder what new misguided and costly twists and turns council will think of next. All done in secrecy at City Hall. It appears that Judge Baird isn’t buying into any of their arguments to make over 50 residents homeless. He appears to be unwavering in his position concerning Maple Pool. He began his recent judgment in court by being openly critical of the City’s first attempts to close Maple Pool in court and commented that he “wasn’t born yesterday.” He adjourned the first proceedings and provided the City with ample opportunity to work out a solution with Maple Pool. A solution that would allow the more than 50 Maple Pool residents to remain in their homes. A solution that was embraced by the greater community. Presumably, because it didn’t fit the City’s agenda, that never happened. Now Judge Baird has once again openly criticized the City’s arguments to disallow two of the residents to be included in the upcoming court proceedings. Judge Baird, understanding that their rights may have been violated in the City’s actions, correctly allowed them to be included and ordered the City to pay their costs. A decision that will have profound implications to the City, not to mention dramatically escalating the legal costs associated with this mess.... read more